Moonlight Dancer

Fiction - Womens
283 Pages
Reviewed on 11/27/2014
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Heather Osborne for Readers' Favorite

Moonlight Dancer by Deb Atwood is an historical fiction novel with a paranormal twist. Kendra McGregor comes across an antique Korean doll while visiting a shop with her friend, Anna. Inexplicably drawn to it, she spends her tuition money on the strange doll and takes it home, much to the displeasure of a young man working at the shop, Hiro. Hiro knows there is something not quite right about the doll. Shortly after the impulsive purchase, strange things begin happening to Kendra. She begins having visions of 16th century Korea and a woman, NanJu. NanJu fell in love with a man, but was forced to break her betrothal to answer the calling of the gods as a mudang. Kendra is thrown into a world she hardly understands, but knows that NanJu desperately needs her help to undo centuries of guilt. Can Kendra and Hiro uncover the secret of an ancient tale before it’s too late?

Miss Atwood blew me away with her creative story. I’m from the San Francisco Bay Area so every location was familiar and touched my memories. I’m also part Korean so it made the story even more meaningful. I loved the contrast between 16th century life and modern times. Kendra is a very sweet character with a tormented past and I loved how Hiro went to great lengths to earn her trust and love. It was fascinating for me to see into a bit of my personal history as well because my family fled Korea when the Japanese invaded. I cannot praise this novel enough. Moonlight Dancer is a simply amazing read and I highly recommend it.

Kristine Hall

In Moonlight Dancer, Deb Atwood creates an irresistible mix of romance, mystery, and mysticism to keep readers turning pages. On a trip to an antique shop, Kendra JinJu MacGregor is drawn to an old Korean doll, only to find the cost of purchasing it prohibitive. When Kendra can't help returning and spending all her living and college tuition money to purchase the doll, it is only the beginning of the high price she ultimately pays for bringing it into her life. Once Kendra has the doll, which she names NanJu, at home, strange things immediately begin happening, leading Kendra back to the shop for answers from the sexy and mysterious salesman Hiro Peretti. The magnetism between Hiro and Kendra is immediate, and though each has secrets that keep them apart, it is NanJu that creates the biggest barrier. Soon NanJu, who is really the ghost of a sixteenth century Korean shaman, is asserting full control, with a plan to carry Kendra into the ancient world of Korea to soothe and release NanJu’s tortured, restless spirit. Kendra’s actions are not her own, the stakes are high, and having pushed Hiro out of her life, will Kendra be able to survive the past on her own to return to the present?

Moonlight Dancer is told from several viewpoints, including NanJu’s, which is told in a series of not always sequential flashbacks. The writing is beautifully done, and Deb Atwood clearly has a gift for description that is truly lyrical, shining especially in the chapters with NanJu as narrator. Readers will feel transported into ancient Korea and will experience NanJu’s trials and tribulations as if sitting on her shoulder. The inclusion of tidbits of Korean traditions, conditions, and history provided for a very rich reading experience. Kendra’s and Hiro’s chapters were less lyrical but certainly helpful in defining their characters and moving the story forward; however, readers will need to be willing to suspend their disbelief in order to accept how their relationship unfolds and how realistic are the conditions. Kendra never shakes off the damsel-in-distress persona, nor Hiro the hero, but perhaps that makes them a perfect match. Moonlight Dancer will appeal to fans of New Adult – though the sex scenes are mild – who enjoy the mysteries of the past woven in with some insta-lust of the present.

Lex Allen

In Moonlight Dancer by Deb Atwood, Kendra can’t resist buying a centuries-old Korean doll, even though it costs all of her college tuition money. Hiro works at the warehouse store and is as irresistibly drawn to Kendra as she was to the doll. He actively pursues Kendra, but struggles to work through her resistance born of a previous trust issue. After taking the doll home, Kendra begins having nightmares that take place in a long ago Korea about a woman named NanJu. Hiro does all that he can to protect her and help her find explanations and solutions to her nightmare problems.

I was more drawn to the book for the horror/ghost story/time travel aspect, but quickly discovered that through the first half of the book, romance was the primary theme. Ms. Atwood picked up the pace and jacked-up the action a bit in the second half of the story. There are actually two stories being told in Moonlight Dancer. The first story is present day and is primarily driven by the romance between Kendra and Hiro, as well as the nightmares and efforts to explain/solve the mystery of the source. The second story is set in Korea in the 1600s, during Japan’s invasion of Korea. This part of the book was obviously well researched and deserves mentioning.

There were, at times, bumpy transitions from one story to the next due primarily to an absence of formatting or prose that would alert the reader to a change of POV or scene. I also felt a lack of verisimilitude in several of Kendra and Hiro’s actions that distracted me from an otherwise interesting and entertaining story. Still, Moonlight Dancer is an excellent first effort that I would recommend to all fans of romantic paranormal stories.

Kim Anisi

Moonlight Dancer by Deb Atwood is one of those books that are hard to put down once you started reading. Do you know the experience of being drawn into a story right from the start? Yes? Then you know what I'm talking about. This story is about how a doll - yes, you read right - changes the life of one lovable woman: Kendra MacGregor, who is part Korean. After Kendra bought an old Korean doll from a shop, things start to become rather odd in her life. One of the workers in the shop, Hiro, also becomes part of her life - but he also might not be what he at first seems. Once the doll is in Kendra's home, she starts to have visions/dreams of a different life - often at the most inopportune moments. What are those visions? And does the doll want to save her or curse her?

Moonlight Dancer by Deb Atwood is an intriguing story that is not only well written but also well planned. The story does not linger on parts too long, and it also does not move too fast. It has the ideal kind of pace, and the author chooses her words skilfully. It was a pleasure to read the story of how Kendra discovers more about her family's past, but also about how she learned to trust Hiro, just to find out that he has some secrets. The only thing I wished was that the balance of tales from the past and present had been interwoven a bit differently.

Kayti Nika Raet

Moonlight Dancer by Deb Atwood blends romance and redemption into a modern day ghost story. One day, while in an antique shop, Kendra finds herself drawn to a beautiful porcelain doll dressed in traditional Korean garb. Even though she leaves the shop empty handed, she can't seem to keep it, or the handsome store clerk, Hiro, out of her head, eventually buying the doll and nabbing a date in the process. But the doll is more than what it seems and as her love for Hiro blossoms she is soon plagued by weird dreams set in sixteenth-century Korea, featuring a woman needing her help. Questioning her very sanity, nonetheless it's up to Kendra to interpret these dreams and do her best to prevent a murder, even if it puts her own life on the line.

Moonlight Dancer was an enjoyable novel. Atwood crafts the scenes in ancient Korea really well, and since I'm interested in Korean culture I loved learning about the history and other fascinating tidbits. I loved Hiro, who was a really sweet, supportive, loving and caring guy, and I loved the romance between him and Kendra. The story kept my interest, though there were parts I felt were dramatic just for the sake of drama and that the story would have been stronger without them. Luckily those parts didn't last too long and I was able to enjoy the ghost story and romance, as well as the surprising twist in the end. An enjoyable, well researched read and a really sweet romance.